The Equestrian Club finds a new way for sports to compete


Mackenzie Adam

Lauren Coffey stands with all of the ribbons from 2020 and the WA Equestrian Team.

Mackenzie Adam, Staff Writer

Students from all around the nation enter an arena and meet their horses for the first time. Among them are students from Westford Academy. Last year Westford competed but it was all virtual. This year will be the equestrian club’s second year competing in the national AEL, Athletic Equestrian League, competition. Lauren Coffey, WA’s P.E. and health teacher, leads this club to new opportunities that some clubs will never experience.

The equestrian club allows students to not only learn about horsemanship but also compete in competitions. Students can learn everything from the horse saddles to the horse anatomy.

Coffey created this club in 2019 after her daughter, Kate Coffey, felt excluded due to the lack of  Westford Academy in equine sports. Even though her daughter has already graduated, Coffey runs the club to make sure students can learn and compete in equine classes.

“We could do different activities like made horse treats, studied hippology [which is the knowledge of horses together] and surprisingly during the pandemic, we decided to create an ADL team [which is the Athletic Equestrian League] and last year they did all virtual shows,” Coffey said.

Every year, Coffey finds national competitions for the Equestrian Club to attend. Since this club isn’t an official Westford sport so Coffey had to work out all the different information while entering these competitions. In these competitions, riders have the opportunity to compete at different levels of riding and take a hippology test.

“I think it was five individuals or six compete in Nationals last year […] Our first year of competition, so really had an amazing start and I’m looking forward to our shows in November. We’ll be doing some in-person shows, and we’ll be hosting another virtual show this year.” Coffey said.

In these events, students will travel to the hosting barn for the competition and get assigned a random horse. This allows for every student who wishes to compete to have that opportunity, even if they don’t have a horse. In virtual shows, students can film the riders at a barn for each category and send it to the competition directors.

Finding these competitions and managing the payment for these happened with the help of dean Betsy Murphy, athletic director Jeff Bunyan, and audio and visual librarian Mark Miller this club has been able to take part in these opportunities. These teams are also able to be competing under the Westford Academy name, not just individually.

“They are all ranked based on their abilities so they are competing in a particular group, either beginner, novice, or intermediate,” Coffey said.

This club meets every Tuesday from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm in room 123. According to the AEL rules, riders can compete from grades 6 to 12. Students in the middle school can join this club virtually at 2:30 pm and participate in competitions.

This club does not have any actual riding lessons, but most students have their private barns with their coaches. These students are not required to ride at barns though.  These competitions still allow students to ride and compete under the Westford Academy like any other Westford sport, but Coffey hopes for a more permanent idea of the team in the future.

“Our established date is 2020 but hopefully in years to come this will become an official WA team,” Coffey said.